For every door opened, Ovitz has indeed had to endure the more trying moments of her dad’s career—times when his face was plastered, in a bad way, all over newspapers and magazines. Once considered the most powerful man in Hollywood, Michael Ovitz saw his trajectory head south after he left CAA, the agency he cofounded, for a short stint at Disney. “The Vanity Fair article was tough,” Kimberly says, referring to the no-holds-barred 2002 profile in which her father lamented the “gay mafia” in the entertainment biz.
“I want to define myself away from who my dad is,” she continues. “I want to be Kimberly Ovitz. When I was first doing this, I thought about whether I should or shouldn’t use my name and how that would affect people. I was finally confident enough to just say, ‘This is my name; I’m going to use it.’ People will have preconceived notions, but my clothes will back it up.”
And they do. Just ask Debi Greenberg of Louis Boston, one of a number of retailers selling the collection. “If a line doesn’t have intelligence to it, if it doesn’t have a consistency, I wouldn’t pick it up,” Greenberg says. “I don’t care who they are.” In other words, it really does boil down to the clothes. “Yeah,” Greenberg deadpans, “isn’t that a shock?”
What makes Ovitz’s collection stand out from the flurry of anonymously pretty contemporary frocks churned out by so many aspiring designers is its spareness. Ovitz learned this aura of restraint from longtime family friend Emily Scott, J. Crew’s cofounder and former CEO. “I think a lot of times it’s easy for designers to get lost and put too much in one collection. Emily helped me figure out how to edit and make my concept come to life,” says Ovitz. “She’s given me business and creative advice.” Scott was Ovitz’s childhood fashion idol and has had a big impact on the easy, androgynous vibe of her clothes (as well as on her personal style). “You know when you’re a kid and you look at all these people and are finally like, That’s who I want to be? That’s the moment I had when I met her,” the designer says. “She’d wear a men’s shirt, black pants or jeans and, like, combat boots.”
“Kim had her own way of doing things and a lot of confidence about it even back then,” says Scott, who claims her input amounted to narrowing the line’s focus.
“I was always just a little rebellious,” Ovitz remarks. Indeed, come prom time at Harvard-Westlake, she wore a men’s suit. It doesn’t get more preppy-punk than that.